Three election dates for Zim?

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans should go for a general election on June 29. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai argues it can only be on September 16. And now, Zimbabwe has a third alternative.

The smaller MDC formation led by Industry minister Welshman Ncube says August 26.

Nothing exposes the wide fissures within the shaky coalition than the differences over election timing.

All three parties in the coalition agree that their union is untenable and elections should be held to end the “monster” administration. But it seems that is where the consensus ends.

Ncube’s party, which had been silent on election timing all along, has thrown its dates.

Party secretary general Priscilla Misihairambwi- Mushonga says Mugabe’s demands for a June 29 election are a “mere dream”.

Speaking during a debate on elections in Bulawayo on Friday Misihairambwi- Mushonga said her party had settled for August 26 as the ideal election date.

“We would like the elections to be held on August 26 and the (presidential election) run-off on September 26,” she said.

“In coming up with this date we factored issues to do with the hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation(UNWTO) general assembly and the legal requirements in accordance to the law,” Misihairambwi-Mushonga said. Zimbabwe is co-hosting the UNWTO with Zambia from 24 to 29 August.

Tapiwa Mashakada, the deputy secretary in Tsvangirai’s MDC told the same debate that the nation must not gamble with the hosting of the UNWTO, hence the elections should be held in September.

 “We cannot hold the elections in August because of the UNWTO. Hence we can only hold elections in September,” Mashakada said.

Mashakada said a September election would allow for the realignment of a raft of laws with the new constitution.

Commenting on the country’s state of preparedness to hold a free and fair election, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said the body is ready provided the State fully funds the process.

He said political parties should ensure a free-fair electoral environment.

Speaking to the Daily News on the sidelines of the debate, National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations national chairperson Effie Ncube said Zimbabwe will only be ready or an election if institutional and legislative reforms are implemented.

“Zimbabwe is not at all ready for an election. We still need electoral, institutional, political and legislative reforms. While the intention is there on the part of some actors; the key actor, Zanu PF is not ready to allow Zimbabweans the freedom to choose,” Ncube said. - Nyasha Chingono

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